Illinois Governor pressures national bank to restore credit

CHICAGO — Gov. Rod Blagojevich said this morning the state of Illinois “will suspend doing any business with Bank of America” until the company restores credit to the shuttered Republic Windows & Doors company on the North Side.

Blagojevich made the announcement after meeting with former workers who have been staging a sit-in on the factory floor since Friday to protest abruptly losing their jobs. The governor said the state has “hundreds of millions of dollars” in dealings with the bank.

“We’re going to do everything possible here in Illinois to side with these workers,” the governor said. He added that the state would go into federal court Tuesday to try to get workers the money they say they are owed.

Union leaders say they’ve been trying to get Republic’s creditor, Bank of America, to reinstate the company’s line of credit and save hundreds of jobs.

The bank has said it isn’t responsible for Republic’s financial obligations to its employees.

A meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. with bank officials, company management and a union representing the workers, U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a Chicago Democrat, said.

The workers have attracted media attention and become a national symbol for thousands of employees laid off nationwide as the economy continues to sour.

Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan said Sunday her office is investigating the company.

President-elect Barack Obama said during a news conference Sunday that the company should follow through on its commitments to the workers.

Gutierrez said the workers under federal law are entitled to 60 days’ pay in the event of a shutdown.


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